Ötzi is a four-piece postpunk band from Oakland, CA. It features the talents of Akiko Sampson (bass, lead vocals), Gina Marie (drums, vocals), K. Dylan Edrich (guitars), and Winter Zora (keyboards).

“Storm” is Ötzi’s second full-length album closely following on the heels of their amazing debut “Ghosts” which was released in 2017. I can best describe the sound of “Storm” as a mashup of postpunk vibes from the 1980s that is reminiscent of Eva O, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and Joy Division. There is also a slight 1990s vibe to the overall sound Ötzi present that feels somewhat to me like The Cranberries. This especially shines through in “Hold Still,” which is the least dark sounding song, at least to me, on “Storm.” Even the chorus is giving me flashbacks to The Cranberries “No Need to Argue.” This is really cool considering that the overall sound of “Storm” focuses more on the decade before:

“I see the ocean in your eyes
I’m reaching for you
Tears reflecting darker skies
I’m all around you
I reach up to touch the ground
I’m here beside you
I feel the earth spin me around
I hold still for you”

Every member Ötzi plays their part in engineering an atmosphere that can undoubtedly be re-created in a live setting. Production wise, the most notable thing is how upfront the bass guitar tends to be. And while it’s not uncommon for this type to have the bass guitar so up front in the mix it never ceases to sound fresh and exciting. The guitars range from droning sustained notes to chorus leaden melodies which work together with the rest of the band. The drum work is energetic, acoustic, and real as all hell. Akiko’s vocals are frantic, emotional, and present. My head cannon for this album pictures Ötzi recording this album live and in one take.

“Scorpio” stands out to me as the most distinguishable track off of “Storm.” The saxaphone was somewhat unexpected, but it just screams at you to get up and dance. Akiko’s best vocal performance also shows up here. Who thought yelling “I love you,” over and over again could be so catchy? I could see this song in a movie about someone trying to deal with a drug problem spiraling out of control.

I don’t often get an opportunity to review actual bands. In the age of the laptop producer they are something of a novelty. There’s just something special about four individuals coming together in order to create something. I don’t often come across a collective piece of art as good as “Storm.” If you’re into 80s postpunk, get on this album immediately. Your playlist will love you for it.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Fans of 80s postpunk (aka people who like good music).

Stand-Out Tracks: “Scorpio,” “Eight Cups,” and “Moths.”

Album Color Profile: #78281F

You can find all things Ötzi at https://otzi.bandcamp.com/

“BLEEDING WOUNDS UNEXPLAINED” is the latest “album” by nostalgic synthpunker(s) The Warhorse. It features ten microsongs with a total run time of about ten minutes. You read that right, The Warhorse produced a ten minute full-length album.

The cover of “BLEEDING WOUNDS UNEXPLAINED” is a pastiche of depthless post-postmodern insanity. There’s a very 1970s looking photograph of an ambiguously small person (who I’m assuming is a child) standing on the bottom left. This little creep is dressed in a clown suit, but apparently mom made him put on windbreaker. After all, Halloween is cold in the midwest. To be honest, you would think that the windbreaker would clash with the clown suit’s vibe but it actually works. Behind the little person is a house, a station wagon thing, and a basketball hoop. There’s also something strange happening on the far right side of the cover, I can’t tell if it’s a grill, a UFO (GRILL-FO), or something else. The photograph is framed by some very 80s looking wallpaper stained with who knows what. There are also some remnants of wrapping paper in the bottom right.

If I had to identify what The Warhorse sounds like I’d say it’s a mix of System of a Down, Psychostick, 1980s punk, vaporwave, and early 2000s grindcore. The audio fidelity of “BLEEDING WOUNDS UNEXPLAINED” is as you would expect: it sounds like it was recorded (with love) in a wet basement cellar somewhere in the midwest. As mentioned before, this album features microsongs that cut out all of the fat. Instead of meandering about, The Warhorse zeroes in only on what makes a song catchy. They don’t care about algorithmically engineered five second intros—they don’t have time for it. What’s left is a single verse and a chorus, and then the song ends. It reminds me of old commercial jingles—“Remote Control Dad” and “Balloonmaker” are indicative of this.

Micro song writing isn’t exactly a new concept. Aside from commercial jingles popularized between 1955-1995, the grindcore scene that Carcass (“Festerday”) and Napalm Death (“You Suffer”) came out produced a lot of this sort of thing in the 80s. Earache Records also released the shortest album ever with a total runtime of about a minute thirty back in 2012.

What makes “BLEEDING WOUNDS UNEXPLAINED” so goddamn bloody brilliant is that it is openly declaring war on social media culture by mocking it. The Warhorse is basically saying, “ya’ll motherfuckers are just going to scroll up on my music anyway, so this is all you’re getting.” As a thought experiment the idea of the ten minute album would seem crazy to me. But in execution, it absolutely works. With a whopping 40,000 songs being added to Spotify every single goddamn day something has to give. I mean—let’s do the math: 40,000 songs a day comes out to roughly 2000 hours of music. AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT. Like—who is actually really listening to all of that? It takes me ten fucking minutes to listen to “BLEEDING WOUNDS UNEXPLAINED.”

While microsongs could be viewed as a complete joke, I think that the time is right for something like this to bleed over into the mainstream. I mean, just look at what’s happening to the Retrowave movement, almost all of the aesthetics that made it popular in the underground have been appropriated by mainstream artists. Could you imagine someone like Katy Perry taking just the hooks or bass drops of her songs turning them into one minute tracks and calling it good? It might sound crazy, but it could happen.

“BLEEDING WOUNDS UNEXPLAINED” manages to ride on the outer edges of so called vibe aesthetics while completely rejecting them altogether. This is an absolutely brilliant synthy punk album that is relevant in the moment. It offers a paradigm shifting social commentary on our attention spans, the music industry, and difference between what it means to be a music fan and an actual musician. If you have ten minutes to spare, check this out. It might change everything you thought you knew about music.

The album is fucking dead. Long live the album.

RECCOMENDED FOR: people who enjoy running through the street naked while on fire with scissors in their hands.

Stand-out tracks: “Remote Control Dad,” (batteries not included), “Hamberders,” “It’s Not You…Ok, yes it is”

Album Color Profile: #FF6666

You can find all things The Warhorse at https://thewarhorse.bandcamp.com/